How to apply for an E3 visa
There are several steps involved in the E3 Visa USA application process. The order of these steps can vary depending on which Embassy or Consulate you apply. Applications should be made to the US Consular Post or Embassy in your country of residence, such as the US Embassy in London if you live in the UK.
If you are already in the US under another visa category, you would apply direct to USCIS to change your status.
For the UK Embassy, you will need to complete the online visa application using Form DS-160, which includes uploading a photo in the relevant format. You will also need to pay the non-refundable visa application fee and schedule an interview.
Typically, you must schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Although you may schedule your interview at any US Embassy or Consulate, it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. As such, if you live in the UK you should schedule your interview at the US Embassy in London.
When you attend your interview you should bring with you various documents, including the following:
- A print-off of the confirmation page for Form DS-160
- A print-off of the appointment confirmation page
- Your passport or other travel document. This must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay in the United States
- A 5 x 5cm (2”x2”) colour photograph taken within the last 6 months, unless you have already successfully uploaded a photograph with your online application
- Documentary evidence of your status in the UK if you are not a UK or EU passport holder
- Documentary evidence of previously issued US visas
- A job offer letter or other documentation from your employer establishing that upon entry to the United States you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage
- The approved LCA specified for E3 Australia
- Documentary evidence of your academic or other qualifying credentials
- A certified copy of any required licence or other official permission required to practice in the speciality occupation in question.
In the event that a US license or other official permission is required to perform the duties described in the petition, but such permission or license is not available prior to entry into the United States, you must be able to show that you will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the USA.
You may also need to provide additional documentation if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted, or if you have a medical condition that could affect your eligibility for a visa, or if you have ever been denied entry into or deported from the United States.
Finally, if you are seeking to establish degree equivalency for a speciality occupation, you should be prepared to provide documentation during the course of your interview outlining your work history, education and training.
The consular officer at the UK Embassy conducting your interview will determine whether the educational and employment information provided meets the eligibility requirements for an E3 Visa USA, in addition to the other matters set out above.
How long does the E-3 visa last?
The E3 visa will mirror the validity of the LCA, which will be for a period of up to two years.
Can you renew the E-3 visa?
It is possible to apply to renew the E3 visa for a further two years, provided you continue to meet the visa requirements.
There is no limit to the number of renewals you can apply for.
Is there an E3 visa cap?
Yes, a maximum number of 10,500 E3 visas can be issued per year. However, these are exclusive to Australian nationals and offer applicants significantly better odds than the standard H-1B visa.
Note also that the cap does not apply to E3 visa dependents.
Will my employer need to file a petition?
Unlike the H-1B visa, your prospective employer does not have to file a petition but they do have to obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor.
The LCA refers to an application filed with the DOL by prospective employers on behalf of workers applying for work authorisation for various non-immigrant statuses, including the E3 Visa USA status.
This requires the employer to attest to certain labor conditions to which it will adhere, as well as declaring the job title, rate of pay, period of employment, and length and location of work of the non-immigrant employee in question.
The LCA must be certified by the DOL and submitted with Form I-129 in order for the E3 Visa USA petition to be approved by USCIS. Please note, until the DOL develops a new LCA for an E3 Visa USA, your employer should use the standard ETA-9035 and ask that it be annotated as an E3 LCA.